Saturday, September 13, 2014

Chapter 19 - The Time-Binding Club: Part 3 - Universal Labor and Time-Binding

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

In the fall of 1920, the U.S. economy was in a recession, as was Walter’s consulting firm. Though Polakov was not making much money, he was at least trying not to waste his time. He was keeping himself busy writing—he had just finished the “Preface” of Mastering Power Production, a book analyzing the economics and technology of industrial power production in the U.S. Although now ready for publication (with a 1921 copyright date), the book did not actually come out until January 1922; Walter’s publisher couldn’t pay the printer’s bill. In the meantime, when he met Alfred, probably sometime in late August, he had already started working on a new book, Quo Vadis, America? (an analysis of the 1920 U.S. economy which Walter ultimately abandoned). The two men exchanged manuscripts. 

Polakov found Alfred’s work compelling. Korzybski’s explicit formulation of time-binding and emphasis on a mathematical and engineering approach to social problems affirmed Polakov’s own views. After only a short time with the manuscript, he concluded that Korzybski’s “philosophy of Human Engineering” constituted “a foundation of new philosophic thought”.(7) Even Polakov’s revered Marx, whom he considered “the founder of the science of political economy”, had not come to the clear definition of the human class of life that he felt Korzybski had reached.(8) Polakov spoke modestly here. While working on Mastering Power Production during and after the war, he had independently arrived—in passing—at a recognition of the phenomenon that Korzybski had defined, labeled, and put at the center of his book. Korzybski readily saw this and agreed about the congruence of his and Polakov’s views. After reading the manuscript of Mastering Power Production, Korzybski accepted Polakov’s notion of “Universal Labor” as “Corresponding exactly to Time-binding”.(9) Alfred had typed out for himself some material from Polakov’s “Preface”, including the following:
…in my discussion of Universal labor, I attempted to show that the cumulative work of past generations lives through the ages and benefits posterity thus, through creative work of engineering minds, we approach the eternity.  
If we apply this criterion to all our work—the human energy expended for production of any result—we must apply it in relation to time not only because we live within a limit of time, not even because time can not be created, stopped or extended but principally because the conception of time is distinctively human, is the factor and the exponent of the entire progress of human life. (10)

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
7. Polakov to C. L. Boone, Sept. 13, 1920. AKDA 6.615. 

8. Polakov 1925, p. 60. 

9. Korzybski 1921, “Appendix III, Engineering and Time-Binding”, p. 262. 

10. Polakov 1921, p. ix. Qtd. by Korzybski in typed notes, AKDA 4.365.

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